A GUEST SERIES
22 – Berlin Got Blurry – Parquet Courts (2016, Rough Trade records)
Released as a single in February 2016 (Did not Chart)
Berlin is the city that never fails to deliver and here is the reason why.
It’s quite late on December 30th 2004 and Mrs SWC and I are standing on a very cold train station platform deep below an airport in Berlin. It’s absolutely freezing. We are in Berlin for a New Years Eve break. We’ve been waiting twenty minutes for a train to the city.
When one eventually arrives we jump on it and take the short ride to centre of the city. Our hotel is located just off of Unter Den Linden and we drag our weary selves up the cold streets to find the small hotel. Its about nine pm and we are cold, hungry and pretty tired. We are both getting grouchy.
We hand the receptionist our booking details and she looks at us and smiles. She does some tapping on the computer and asks to see our passports, as usual she smiles when she sees mine.
Loser – Beck (1993, DGC Records, Number 15)
“ah, yes” she says, followed by “we’ve been waiting for you, there is a problem with your booking” and with this she vanishes behind a door. Mrs SWC and I stand there, yawning, and getting increasing fed up. Mrs SWC shoots me a look, which reminds me that this “was my bloody idea”.
Suddenly a smart man appears from behind the door. He has a brilliantly waxy moustache and is called Lukasz, he is the manager of the hotel. He shakes me by the hand, never a good sign I find, complete strangers shaking your hand, when you’ve been told there is some kind of problem. Anyway, the problem is that the room we were booked in, is unavailable, because, and here Lukasz lowers his voice, ‘a man slit his wrists in it earlier on today’.
Which is awful, obviously.
Lukasz smiles and touches his waxy moustache. I’m not sure why. He tells us, “and we have no other rooms….” He lets that hang slightly and smiles again. “….so we’ve arranged another hotel for you, at no extra cost, it’s about ten minutes’ walk up the road”. He hands me an envelope and tells me to hand that to the receptionist there with that he vanishes behind the same door as the lady earlier.
We look at the envelope – we are now staying apparently at the Westin Grand, Mrs SWC tells me that ‘It better bloody well be grand” and marches off, leaving me to drag the suitcases behind me.
The Westin Grand it turns out is a five star hotel. It is incredible and we arrive to a gold plated reception which is staffed by one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. She greets us like an old friend and a man takes us to our room. He insists we leave our suitcases where they are.
We appear to have been given a suite. It has four rooms, the bedroom has the biggest bed I have ever seen which I still managed to fall out of when drunk on gluwein and wheat beer, approximately 30 hours later.
Share the Fall – Roni Size (1997, Talkin Loud Records, Number 37)
The bath has a television built into it, which seems massively dangerous to me, but we go with it. In the second room is a sort of lounge, which has three big silver domes on a table. The man who shows us to our room, tells us that dinner is on the house and then he hands us two cards, these are invitations to the Westin Grands New Year Eve party, which are also on the house (as a present for the trouble…), they are 400 Euros each, I kid you not, on the tickets in small writing it is says in German (I translated it) “Alcohol and a five course meal is included in the price”. Mrs SWC looks at me – and for the first time in about six hours, smiles at me.